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Child care milestone or dilemma?

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Child care and the older child

I was talking with an acquaintance a few weeks ago about her job search. She described the situation she was looking for and why, and said she was looking forward to her now three year old son being older so she wouldn't have to worry about child care and kid coverage so much. I just about choked on my coffee - and I didn't burst her bubble. As the kids get older, trying to figure out the right arrangements for them actually gets harder.

Child care and the older child
I miss the ease of the days when my sons were at pre-school. One place to pick up and drop off. Playdates on off days and weekends. Not worrying about sports practice for one and art class for another, and Sunshine still needs to be picked up. At preschool. On the other side of town.

Logistics That Make My Head Spin

The logistics during the school year are hard enough, but we make them work with school-based after school programs and carefully choosing activities. Even with that care, we have cross-town pick-ups to manage twice week. Next year will be a bit harder because Alfs will be too old for the after school program, may sometimes need to stay late at school for a club or practice, and budget cuts have eliminated the late bus. I have no idea how to manage that. I don't want them to give up the activities that are important to them and will work hard to accommodate the schedules, but how much is too much? And still, those cross-town pick-ups.

Right now I am trying to sort out summer and I have talked to several sitters. All the kids need time at the beach and in the sun. Sunshine, at four, needs care. Woody, at a precocious eight, needs supervision, direction, drop-offs and pick-ups at day programs, and some interference between him and his siblings. And Alfs? At twelve, he mostly needs a ride.

And evening child care: what do we do about that as Alfs gets older? Most of the girls advertising their child care services are only a couple of years older than Alfs. Having them "baby sit" a relative peer isn't quite right. Do I hire someone to watch the younger kids and tell Alfs to stay out of the way? That doesn't seem like it would work, but maybe.

A baby sitter in the family, but not for the family

Alfs is almost old enough to baby sit himself, and I think he'd be good at it as long as his charges were not his siblings. I asked if he would be interested in taking a babysitting training class that includes some basic first aid and CPR instruction and he said yes. Maybe we just plan on hiring a sitter the nights Alfs is hired out as a sitter? Do we just stop going out?

How do we go on from here, especially in the summers? I still need to work at least part-time, so we'll still need help with the kids. As the years pass, the younger ones will be easier and easier to manage, but Alfs will still need those rides. Eventually Woody will need rides, too, while Sunshine still needs supervision. Do I eventually just hire a chauffeur?

Clearly I have far more questions than answers. First things first, however. This summer and next school year are my first orders of business and logistics. Getting Sunshine and Woody supervision, and Alfs that ride.

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